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Police wildlife crime commitment sees creation of new staff role

Posted on 23rd May 2014

Wildlife-campaign-Alan-Charles

Derbyshire police’s commitment to tackling wildlife crime will be spreading its wings further across the county with the creation of a new role.

The force is looking for a dedicated wildlife co-ordinator, who will work with Derbyshire’s wildlife crime police officers to identify the best way to tackle offenders.

The police staff post will help the team by organising warrants, identifying wildlife crime hotspots and operating the force’s Farm Watch scheme, as well as working with partners such as Natural England and the RSPB.

A poster campaign is also rolling out to highlight the wide variety of wildlife crimes, such as poaching, the import or export of endangered species, bat persecution or killing birds of prey.

These posters aim to raise awareness of the dangers of wildlife crime and the penalties – such as a £5,000 fine and jail term – and urge readers to report suspicious behaviour to police.

They will be placed across the county in a bid to make people more aware of the types of criminality that are having a damaging impact on Derbyshire’s rural environment.

Alan Charles, the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner, pledged to make cutting wildlife crime a focus for the force.

He said: “This post will see a member of police staff, rather than a police officer, undertaking this new role which is a far more efficient use of our resources.

“I know from conversations with local people that they feel very strongly about the need to tackle wildlife crime which is something they find totally unacceptable.  That’s why I have pressed for targeted work in this area.

“This new position will go a long way towards helping us deliver an improved service, with our partners, to address wildlife and rural criminality.”

There are already several wildlife crime officers in the county, spread over Derbyshire’s three policing divisions.

The officers, led by Sergeant Darren Belfield, pursue prosecutions against people committing crimes including fishing without a license, uprooting protected plants, badger baiting and poisoning birds of prey.

In recent weeks, the team, together with the RSPB, has been investigating the killing of a goshawk which was found on the Chatsworth Estate.

The bird of prey was found in April and it was later discovered that both its legs had been broken, leading officers to believe it had been unlawfully snared and killed.

Also in April, a 55-year-old man was found guilty of destroying a bat roost at an empty commercial property in Dale Road, Matlock.

Hargurdial Singh Rai, from Birmingham, and his company ISAR Enterprises Ltd were convicted by magistrates in Chesterfield of carrying out work on the building without a license, which then destroyed the bat roost.

All bats are classed as European Protected Species and both the bats and their roosts are fully protected by law.

Sgt Belfield said he hoped the poster campaign would encourage members of the public to report suspicious behaviour and help police stamp out wildlife crime.

He said: “This is not just a problem in rural communities; many of the people who commit offences against our wildlife and environment live in urban areas and travel widely in order to do so.

“They also do not just target wildlife – rural communities are often seen as a soft target for other crime like theft of fuels and plant and farm machinery.  

“If you suspect anyone in your community of being involved in criminality against wildlife, the environment and indeed any other types of offending, you should telephone police to report it or report it anonymously via Crimestoppers.”

The wildlife co-ordinator role closes to applicants at midday on Tuesday, May 27. For more information on the requirements of the role and to apply, visit www.derbyshire.police.uk and head to the ‘Careers’ page.

You can also find a wealth of information on wildlife crime on the force website.

Do you need a quick answer to a general question? Then we recommend you visit the national Ask The Police web site.